The EPA’s Attack On Our Hobby – What It Means, and Why It Matters



-February 10, 2016-

The EPA’s Attack On Our Hobby – What It Means, and Why It Matters

Mike Burroughs

Unless by some chance, you've managed to avoid all social media outlets for the past day or so, it's quite likely you've seen the latest automotive headlines: "EPA SEEKS TO PROHIBIT CONVERSION OF VEHICLES INTO RACECARS." It's been everywhere, seemingly on every forum and every facebook group I'm a part of. Within hours of such news hitting the airwaves, enthusiasts from across the board have rallied; petitions have surfaced, awareness has been conjured, and it seems that a lot of people aren't taking it lightly. Perhaps you've formulated an opinion on the situation already, or perhaps you've avoided reading it entirely. Whichever side you fall on, we urge you to read on, as we dive in and explain the EPA's attack on automotive enthusiasts, and why you should be up in arms along with us.

It's important to note that there's about to be some generalizing and broad-scoping. After all, the EPA (that's Environmental Protection Agency for those who aren't aware) has buried its capital punishment upon us within a massive jargon-filled intentionally-complex six-hundred-and-twenty-nine-page federal document (you can read it here if you have a few days to spare). I don't have time to cover it all, and chances are neither do you. What we can do, however, is cut to the parts that matter. First and foremost, let's establish the issue at hand. Buried deep within their "Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles— Phase 2" ruling is a set of rules that goes beyond their obvious reach, and affects every car on the road... and off.

What is the EPA doing?  -  That's a damn good question. With headlines like "The EPA is Cracking Down on Race Cars," it's easy to assume this is related specifically to racing vehicles, and perhaps that doesn't implicate you specifically, as maybe you don't even own a race car. Well, the problem is that it does refer to you, so here's the issue at hand: Quoting the EPA's federal document, "...Motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become non-road vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C." 

SEMA, widely known in our circle for hosting the biggest event of the year in the automotive world, is also a lobbyist for the industry in which we work, live, and play. The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association exists specifically to help grow and protect the automotive aftermarket, and as the group to help spearhead this attack by the EPA, they've gone through the effort of analyzing the unbelievably long EPA document, and their analysis is this: "The EPA ... regulation would prohibit conversion of vehicles into racecars and make the sale of certain emissions-related parts for use on converted vehicles illegal."

So, why does this matter to me?  -  Whether you own a race car or not is surprisingly less relevant to the issue than you might initially think, and here's why. Rewinding to the wording in the EPA document, there's a special term the EPA uses. "....even if they are used solely for competition or if they become non-road vehicles" What is "non-road?"  Well, thankfully, the EPA's website tells us, and to do you one better, I'll make it clear and concise. Even if you want to drive a  fork lift around in your yard, these laws affect you tooThe EPA is claiming complete control over the emissions and emissions system of every car and truck in the USA, no matter its intended purpose. Modify it, and you're breaking federal law, even if that vehicle will never see the road. At least, that's how it's reading to us.

What's the real damage of this Ruling? Let's start at the top. This ruling affects the Clean Air Act, which, for decades, has been understood not to affect cars not meant for use on public roads. That includes everything from race cars, drift cars, and dragsters, to rock crawlers, trail rigs, and farm trucks.  Now the EPA claims that's no longer the case. The ruling also states a ban on the sale of "products used on such vehicles," whatever that could be stretched to mean. At $36Billion, the automotive parts industry is massive, and Steve McDonald, SEMA's VP for Government Affairs, says that the EPA's ruling is poised to make a "meteor-sized dent" in the industry. In all, it will affect countless jobs, businesses, and and enthusiasts at every level. It will affect the world of motorsports as we know it - everything ranging from professional racing series like IMSA and NASCAR, to the folks at a grassroots level. Who knows what might happen to series like LeMons, Chump Car, Spec E30, and more. It will affect classic cars, trucks, and antiques, with no "wiggle room" given. Beyond that, things could easily get worse. The word of the law is fickle, and with a sentence like "anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C.", and with a "civil penalty up to $37,500 for each engine or piece of equipment in violation," it sounds to me like more than just our emissions systems are at stake.

In any case, here's your summary:  The EPA aims to cease the conversion of cars into race cars, and to ban the sale of parts that make it possible. This bill may sound like "no cat-less test pipes," but its vagueness and verbosity leave it open-ended leaving much more hanging in the balance. There's no enforcement plan outlined yet, which might sound promising; however, it only means that once the rules are in place, then they decide how they punish us.

What can I do? This question is the most important of all. First of all, there's a petition worth signing on Change.org, and you can find it by clicking here. Next, we urge you to make your voice heard by those that need to hear it. Contact your local congressman or woman, and let them know what you think. By clicking this link to the House of Representatives site, you can easily look up your local congressman, and make contact with their office. Remember, if we don't speak up, we can't be heard. Take a few minutes and make a phone call, and let your local representative know that you simply can't stand for it. Your passion, hobby, and perhaps job could be at stake. Lastly, make sure everyone else hears you too. Spread the word! Share this article, or others, with your friends, family, and colleagues. Let's keep the EPA from overstepping their bounds.


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Comments on The EPA’s Attack On Our Hobby – What It Means, and Why It Matters

  • http://vwcamper.tumblr.com/ BusBuddha

    Okay, someone enlighten me because I am a little confused by the wording and intent of what the EPA’s putting out there.

    Hypothetical: Let’s say I go buy, I dunno, a 1985 AE86 off Craigslist that’s had some mods, but still passes California smog just fine. It’s not a race car, but it’s also not in its original configuration. Where does something like that fall?

  • lorensteven01

    Don’t ever stop stance

  • Jake

    God, this again. I know people just love to react based on sensational titles without doing research, but here goes. This is not a new thing. It has been illegal FOR DECADES to tamper with emissions equipment on a road car. This is not new. This is just a clarification of that existing law. And as all of us as enthusiasts know, this is a law that is almost impossible to enforce. By the way, there are no plans for enforcement laid out in this bill. So basically, things are staying exactly as they have always been. Secondly, there are some new regulations being proposed, but THEY DO NOT APPLY TO CARS. They only apply to vehicles that weigh over 14,000 pounds. So, why are people getting worked up? Basically, because that’s what SEMA does. They grab hold of little things like this and whip people into a frenzy. They profit financially from fighting the EPA. 

    So, please, Stanceworks, dig a little deeper. Don’t just post sensationalist clickbait rubbish based on other sensationalist clickbait rubbish. This is absolutely a non-issue, and only serves to make us as enthusiasts look ignorant. Here’s a well-written article that lays the whole thing out much clearer than I have done:

    http://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/news/a28135/heres-what-the-epas-track-car-proposal-actually-means/

  • Jake

    BusBuddha You’d be fine, because exactly nothing is changing.

  • JakWhite

    Well done VW, look what you’ve done haha!

  • ToddAOmicioli

    Quoting the EPA’s federal document, “…Motor vehicles and motor
    vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their
    certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or
    if they become non-road vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a
    certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is
    subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph
    (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C.”
    jake is thinkin of med duty which are not called motor vehicles in epa speak, they are refered to a med futy motor vehicle or heavy duty motor vehicles. so try again jake

  • Jake

    ToddAOmicioli No, I’m not. I’m referring to the section this post even quoted when it referenced heavy duty vehicles. I was incorrect when I said heavy-duty was 14K pounds and above. That’s the DOT’s definition. EPA’s is 8500 pounds and above. The new legislation (which is really no different from the legislation that has been on the books for decades) only applies to vehicles that weigh over 8500 pounds. It was introduced primarily to put and end to “coal-rolling” and the like. When the EPA is referencing motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines in your quote, they are referencing heavy-duty vehicles and engines. Not passenger cars.

  • jackhossross

    @Jake ToddAOmicioli So what about simple street enthusiasts? This would remain the same as going from a catted to a non-catted DP? Or are they taking it a step further?

  • Alexis_2016_frs

    signed. U0001f44dU0001f3fc

  • RicardLopez

    Epa should be planting more forests and stoping the b.s bout race cars..but thats isnt the most worrying.. here in my country “spain-istan” the gov is promoting a law to ban the circulation of cars that have more than 20 years.. U0001f61e
    Sucks..

  • Mawhfawkin

    Trump has taken over the EPA.

  • Mike

    Regardless of how you read it, certain cars will always be exempt.

    Antiques, and pretty much any old car that were not manufactured with with emissions controls. These vehicles were never certified by the EPA and will not retroactively be certified.

    Factory race cars, Nascar, indy, f1. these cars were also never certified under the EPA, and as such were never built with emissions controls so really there is no way to remove emissions controls that wern’t there, for example Porsche cup cars.

    If you read the wording, in the worst case scenario it says that a person cannot remove emissions equipment on vehicles where it came from factory with emissions. 
    This is the way of the future unfortunately, we must take steps to protect our environment and even though i think this attempt is severely misdirected (shipping liners, factories and power plants should be the EPA’s focus really) it is inevitable and was bound to happen. that being said, stop complaining and follow the American way of finding loopholes in the law and rules… 

    maybe this will convince more people to get creative and start making their own vehicles (which is completely legal in most places)

  • stacydorsch

    signed!!

  • dominic

    @Mike  I believe that you are missing the point of the fact that this is merely one more small attack on the concept of property rights of the citizens in the United States. The EPA alone has done more to harm/choke the American economy than any other institution, which has driven manufacturing and other industries out of this country. Focus on the shipping, trucking, and power gen plants, etc. you say… don’t worry, they already have a choke hold on them as well. Now its not that I do not care about the environment, and strive to minimize impact, but the unfortunate effects are that legal citizens have had their property rights (as opposed to human rights) severely limited, if not completely gone. Power corrupts, and what the Government (ie bought and paid for politicians) tells you to do is not necessarily for your benefit.

  • Voorhis auto

    You would think some of them are motor heads. wtf

  • BIMMER_RAY

    Really? Another right they want to infringe on.. Smh so say when you express yourself through a hobby with your own property.

  • Mike

    @dominic 
    “Focus on the shipping, trucking, and power gen plants, etc. you say…
    don’t worry, they already have a choke hold on them as well.” 
    um no, they dont. look into their procedure for ensuring emissions on large container ships (which burn a much less refined product than diesel), or tractor trailers (particulate matter much?)… its lax as hell! why? because if they raise the standards on those modes of shipping, the cost of products goes up, the cost of running those shipping modes goes up! and who do you think has some nice fat cats in Washington? you talk about bought and paid for politicians but you cant put together the pieces, the EPA is a sham trying to convince the world that they are making a difference, the easiest way to do this is to place a burden on the individual so they feel it, rather than trying to make a larger impact by going after the large polluters. 
    By the way your concept of property rights as a country is completely out of wack. How can you live as a society when you only care about the individual? that concept is why the world is messed up, because people believe that the only one that they have to care about is them selves and no one else matters. Yes i am not american, yes i think your epa should be focusing on the large polluters rather than the individual citizen, yes i think your wrong about the EPA choking your economy. You do it to your self when you cant balance the importance of the self versus the importance of the group, people inventing and creating things are too focused on making things to sell to the individual rather than to benefit society. That is what is is seen of the American culture outside of America, you care more about property rights than human rights.

  • RedBaron3

    i don’t actually own or drive cars,but i play computer based car games and am well versed in all things motoring.wtf?what is the world coming to,you can’t even enjoy a bit of what makes you feel good?what’s next ban sex!?

  • csracing87

    @Jake The EPA seems to contradict themselves quite well: “Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C.”

  • HereToEducate

    You need to educate yourself. The automotive industry as a whole is only a fraction of the greenhouse gas effecting the environment. In addition, the manufacturing AND automotive industry together are only a fraction of greenhouse gas. No, the MAJORITY of greenhouse gas is caused by methane produced by cattle. I see NO attempts at decreasing livestock farming or red meat consumption, the real issue effecting “the environment.” Science proves these FACTS. The few thousands that hobby in car modifications that effect emissions standard effect a negligible amount in the environment and when I say negligible I mean ZERO. Science. Facts. Educate yourself. Don’t be a dope.
    You want to help? Stop buying burgers and ask your local congressman to create laws to decrease cattle farming and red meat production.

  • milkplus

    @Mike Wait…What? Property rights are probably the most basic human rights. You should wikipedia “the enlightenment.”

  • DavidGomez3

    Send this around as well. A petition to impeach the lying EPA chief Gina McCarthy.

    https://impeachepa.act.freedomworks.org/?source=021716blazetakeover#primary_form

  • Vitusonwheels

    Just another way to take our rights away…..I ride fixed gear bike, next i can’t ride on the public road because it’s a race bike!!!! EPA is a bunch of d- bags!!

  • chris

    The alternative is that we kill off our species from the effects of climate change. Just buy a rotax max if you want to race so badly, might actually learn a thing or two about racing while you’re at it

  • Daniel

    You should be able to do as you please with your own vehicle on private property. Thatd be like going after pc gamers for overclocking and using more electricity.

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